BEREA, Ohio — Johnny Manziel’s footwork, decision making and grasp of a pro offense improved significantly in his second season.
But now that it’s over, the Browns want him to concentrate on his off-field issues.
After Manziel was ruled out of Sunday’s season finale against Pittsburgh because of a concussion, coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator John DeFilippo both said the 23-year-old QB needs to work on his personal life if he intends to be a long-term starter.
"Here is a guy that has an NFL skill set," Pettine said. "He’s very talented. If you spend some time with him, he’s a likable guy. You root for him. But there are problems there that we’ll talk as we’re headed to the offseason about getting addressed.
"We want to make sure that all of our players are in good shape as people first, players second because I don’t think you can be as effective as you can be as a player if things aren’t right off the field, and he’s a good example of that."
Manziel went 2-4 as a starter, showing growth in everything from his preparation to pre-snap reads. But for all his progress inside the chalked sidelines, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner has continued to make off-the-field headlines.
During the season, Manziel, who spent 73 days in a Pennsylvania inpatient rehabilitation facility specializing in alcohol and drug addiction treatment last winter, was questioned by police in Avon, Ohio, following an in-car fight with his girlfriend. He was also benched two games by Pettine for being a distraction during the team’s bye week and a video surfaced this week of Manziel rapping to a song while holding a can of what appears to be an alcoholic drink.
Pettine said accountability off the field is important.
"We always talk in terms of long-term sustained success and that’s what you want to strive for," Pettine said. "If things aren’t right off the field, that’s very difficult to have that level of consistency, especially when you’re in a position of leadership."
Pettine was asked if the Browns will recommend Manziel return to rehab.
"No, that’s a personal thing," he said. "I’m not going to get into it."
DeFilippo, too, has been impressed with Manziel’s development. But unless Manziel’s fully committed to getting better, DeFilippo feels any success he’ll have will be fleeting.
"It’s tremendously important and not only for on the field, I think your teammates need to see you doing the right thing as well," DeFilippo said. "That’s part of the position. It’s a lifestyle. I’ve talked about that a bunch. Playing quarterback in this league is a lifestyle. You need to eat, sleep and breathe football. I think we made strides in that department. I don’t want to say we’re there all the way."
With Manziel unable to play, Austin Davis will start against the Steelers. The team also signed Pat Devlin to serve as Davis’ backup. Devlin was with Cleveland at the end of training camp.